How can luxury hotels become more exclusive ?


The Point Resort, Adirondack

THE POINT Resort Hotel in the Adirondack mountains near New York has been making headlines with several innovations meant to provide a new exclusivity edge to its positioning. Set in an idyllic scenery, the hotel prides itself as providing the utmost personal service with a special touch. The hotel markets itself as a getaway, the home page image of two empty chaiselongs overlooking the beautiful lake of Adirondack is the best statement to support this strategy.

However, other exclusive resort chains such as One & Only or Aman Resorts have a rather similar marketing communications strategy, highlighting remoteness and privacy as their competitive advantage and proudly displaying the most original and luxurious interior design and architecture. The Point comes with an added exclusivity feature which restricts access to the premises strictly to hotel guests or guests holding a confirmed reservation. A ”tour” of the hotel can be arrange for a fee of USD 1.300 and has to be booked in advance.

Also, the entire marketing strategy of the hotels is geared towards couples, rather than individual guests, this being subtedly suggested and encouraged. Limited twin or single bedded rooms are available, therefore ”discouraging” single bookings. This is the opposite strategy some luxury hotels such as W San Francisco or The Berkeley which have been promoting self endulging stays, such as a self pampering package for the single on Valentine’s day weekend. Hotels such as Gansevoort in New York have also struck gold with their Sex and the City packages, attracting smaller groups of female friends to follow in the footsteps of the four Tv show celebrities of the HBO hit series.

Other luxury hotels resorts such as the hip Cheval Blanc in Courchevel, owned by LVMH, have been successfully maintaining an exclusivity feature by restricting online reservations, inviting guests to personally contact the hotel through email or telephone. This comes as a complete opposite approach of most other hotels regardless of rating, which have made online reservations widely available, even for exclusive suites which run for more than USD 10.000. This reservation system coupled with the numerous exclusive events by LVMH brands (Vuitton, Dior, Givenchy etc) have made the Cheval Blanc the most desirable location in the French Alps, rooms reaching ”record” in peak season.

But just how exclusive a luxury hotel can get and to what extent this exclusivity can make a difference in a fast growing and changing competitive environment worldwide, with the profile of the luxury consumer changing very rapidly. Or better to say, should a luxury hotel consider becoming more exclusive ? One should bear in mind that ”surprise” reservations represent already 30% of all bookings for major luxury hotels in the capital cities worldwide. It is to say that major luxury hotels have seen a fast changing profile of consumers, with new nationalities such as Indians, Turkish or Chinese replacing their ”traditional” Middle Eastern or Russian clientele. Therefore, the lack of exclusivity, if we may call it, has played a great part in attracting these new guests, most unaccustomed to luxury hospitality. These guests book directly on the hotel web sites and sometimes pop in for a quick tour while in town, staying at other hotels.

Oliver Petcu